During the time that Luis Serrano has been president of SOMMa, together with vice presidents Maria A. Blasco and Mª José Sanz, the alliance has deployed an intense activity in science policy, establishing bridges with numerous entities of the political and scientific world.
After three years as president of the Severo Ochoa – María de Maeztu Alliance, Luis Serrano, director of the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) ends his term and steps down from the presidency. The new president will be Maria Blasco, director of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), and until now first vice president of SOMMa. The new president has expressed her will to “carry on working for the recognition of Spanish science as one of the political and economic priorities of this country”. Blasco will be accompanied by SOMMa vice presidents Mª José Sanz, director of the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), and Antonio Molina, director of the Centre for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics (CBGP-UPM-INIA).
Maria A. Blasco from CNIO is taking over the presidency of SOMMA after Luis Serrano from CRG was in charge for 3 productive years.
The Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu Alliance, SOMMa, gathers over 50 top Spanish research institutions with over 8,500 researchers, was launched officially from the CRG on October the 18th, 2017, with the support of then Secretary of State of Research of the Ministry of Economy, Carmen Vela, as an initiative to visibilize the Spanish science with the Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu mentions of excellence of the Spanish State Plan for R+D+I.
The Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu mentions are the highest institutional recognition to scientific research in Spain. Their awardees, selected by an international evaluation committee, cover practically all areas of knowledge, from physics and mathematics to environmental sciences and biomedicine, as well as humanities. Our María de Maeztu Unit of Excellence, called GEM-DMC2 (CABD), has a recognized expertise in understanding the processes of decision-making in cell collectives that are responsible for the generation, maintenance and evolution of organ form and function. A reflection of the excellence of SOMMa centres and units is the fact that they are also those institutions that occupy the first positions in international scientific rankings.
“Our country has research institutes and researchers that are among the best of the word, this needs to be valued and boosted by our governors, not only financing science at a level suited to an ambitious country, but also easing the excessive administrative burden that thwarts the retention and contracting of international talent”, highlights the new president.
“After these difficult months of pandemic, we have seen how society became more aware than ever about the relevant and inexcusable role of science in the resolution of the problems and challenges that may bring us new diseases or the growth or aging of World population”, reflects Maria A. Blasco. “Perhaps this is the moment to open a new debate about the strengths and weaknesses of science policy in our country, empowering, as well, the various social actors in the area of science that develop a truly excellent job, with transcendental results for our society”. The new president has highlighted, as well, “the necessity of promoting measures, both social and political, aimed at powering economic and social impact of Spanish research, improving its legislative framework and financial stability”.
Serrano steps down from the presidency after intensive efforts put in science policy, calling once more for R+D+I to become a priority for the country.
The end of the term of Luis Serrano follows the recent campaign launched together by ASEICA, AseBio and SOMMa in favour of R+D+I, with support of almost 50 entities. Other relevant milestones have been the firm support of the Minister Pedro Duque towards the Severo Ochoa programme (January 2020), the first positioning in science policy of the alliance, the “Informe SOMMa: Acciones necesarias para salvaguardar la competitividad de la ciencia” (March 2018), or the establishment of a forum for the dialogue between the directive teams of the Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu centres and units.
Serrano finished his term reminding, as well, the importance of dialogue during his period in the presidency of SOMMa: “The frank, constant, constructive dialogue between those who do the research and those who administer the research system is the way to match the actions that are possible with the real necessities: both those needs that are urgent and those for the long term. We must build on top of our strengths and successes and not give up on the correction of the deficiencies of our system. Hopefully we reach a 2.5 % investment in research by 2030. The sustainability of the welfare state will depend upon the ability to generate high added value and, as a result, on sectors and industries based on the generation of knowledge”.
Good luck Maria A. Blasco and the new team in the future endeavors representing SOMMa!